Courtesy navigation

Experts Blog

Displaying 43 to 48 of 807 results

13 more things you could have learned from our blog in 2013

January 02, 2014 by Guest Blogger

13 more things you could have learned from our blog in 2013/13{{}}1 “Being your own business cannot be improved by unnecessary physical ‘accoutrements’, so think carefully about any purchases you think you need to make because you’re now ‘a business’”

From Three things to avoid in your first year of business

2 “In the UK, anyone can call themselves ‘an accountant’ – even if they aren’t qualified. So, ensure that the one you choose is suitably qualified and part of the relevant professional body”

From How to choose the right accountant for your business

3 “Spend 30 minutes each day thinking. It seemed to work for Bill Gates. He’s reported to have spent one month every year thinking up ideas for his business”

From Give your business the best chance of surviving when times are tough 

4 “Managers make sure that everything is controlled properly; leaders create the vision, the enthusiasm and the passion. The best leaders are those who inspire and create followers”

From The difference between management and leadership?

5 “It's funny how the best ideas can come to you by accident – literally, in my case”

From How my business Tots To Travel was born

6 “Let’s be honest, a boring, drab, dark office has never inspired anyone to do anything”

From How to make your office more creative

7 “Think about issues that people are faced with every day and write them down. Helping to solve such problems could enable you to come up with some excellent ideas”

From Seven steps all start-ups should take

8 “Look for a business mentor to help you stay on track and advise if things get tough”

From How to balance a new business and your family - without losing your sanity

9 “In 1919 a man called Jack Cohen decided to sell more than just syrup and fish paste. He started selling tea and laid the foundations for what we now know as Tesco”

From Three mistakes many start-ups make

10 “Nobody wants to think that what you thought was the perfect hire could result in a costly tribunal case, but one in six disputes do – at an average cost of £9,000”

From What key obligations do businesses have to their employees?

11 “According to Experian, there are some 900,000 businesses in the UK that have real potential to start exporting and yet they are still only serving the UK market at the moment”

From Does your business have export potential?

12 “Never sit back and admire what you’ve achieved – look forward to what’s next. Have the courage of your convictions and think about what you need to do to reach new markets”

From My advice to start-ups and small firms – Ed Reeves of Moneypenny

13 “Up to £150 per head of the cost of holding a Christmas party is an allowable tax deduction and VAT can also be recovered on staff entertaining expenditure”

From How your business can avoid Christmas party pitfalls

Thank you to our sponsors for their support last year. Many thanks also to the experts who shared their knowledge and provided content that ensures this blog remains a popular source of information, advice and inspiration. A big ‘Thank You’ also to our ever-growing list of partners – we look forward to working with you this coming year and beyond.

Finally, a massive ‘Thank You’ to all our readers in 2013. Whether you were thinking of starting your own business and were looking for inspiration or were starting your own business and needed advice, we hope you found what you were looking for.

Happy New Year and here's to a superb 2014…

Further reading

Deborah Meaden on how to fund a new business

December 19, 2013 by Guest Blogger

What advice would I give to someone starting out in business who may be worried about funding? Today, I think people in need of funding and hoping to start a new business tend to approach the banks automatically, by default. Then, if they’re declined, the big question is – ‘What next?’

To those people, I would say that I think it’s never been a better, more exciting time to explore different avenues.

The difficulty with the banks and getting loans through conventional methods has meant other opportunities have had to appear through necessity. There are plenty of different models and lots of people actually looking to invest in new businesses – look at crowd funding, for example.

It can be worth considering friends and family, too, and approach them for investment, although you’ve got be careful that you’re very clear on the terms early on.

Which investment am I most proud of? I find it really difficult to pick a favourite investment. When I’m visiting a business or I have to be especially focused on one in particular it has 100% of my attention. It becomes all that I can think of, all that I can see and it becomes the one that I love the most. But when I walk out the door or shift my focus to another investment, that becomes the one I absolutely want to do.

I’ve got a portfolio of 19 businesses that I’m currently invested in. It’s been known to flux up to a maximum of 30 and down to ten.

There is one that I’m very pleased I got involved in and it was a cloth mill called Fox Brothers, which started in 1772. It was the last cloth mill left in the South West and it was dead – absolutely on its knees. I didn’t know that when I invested.

I’m pleased to say that now it’s doing well and I’m really proud to have been involved. I like to think that if I hadn’t found it, and it hadn’t found me, it would have died and a part of our heritage would’ve been lost.

This exclusive insight was taken from an interview conducted by cityindex.co.uk when Deborah recently participated in the city index celebrity trader challenge. Find out more about Deborah and her views by visiting her website.

Further reading

Rewarding and recognising staff when money is tight

December 19, 2013 by Guest Blogger

Rewarding and recognising staff when money is tight/thank you{{}}It is often said that employees are the lifeblood of a business and it is certainly true that they are an important factor in its success.  For this reason ensuring employees feel valued is vital in order that they remain motivated, loyal and productive. 

Research conducted by Modern Survey suggests that 85% of employees who feel meaningfully recognised will go above their formal responsibilities to get a job done. However, as economic conditions continue to be tough, allocating a significant budget to an all-singing, all-dancing staff reward and recognition scheme is often simply not an option. Business owners and managers should therefore be looking at low-cost, high-impact alternatives.

Praise and recognition are essential and everyone likes a ‘pat on the back’ to make them feel good. Often the only reward for hard work is the satisfaction of the individual responsible in seeing a job well done, but it is important that time is taken to shine a spotlight on them.

Recognising an individual, or a team or department, has a huge knock-on effect throughout a business with word spreading both through the grapevine and via more formal communication channels. This mustn’t just apply to those team members whose contributions are obvious, such as those in sales. Equal pride must be taken in those whose skill and dedication is an integral part of your business success. 

Can this be achieved on a budget? Yes, because a crucial element in any employee recognition programme is presentation and, for this reason, the reward itself does not need to be high-value. In most cases, acknowledgement in front of peers is known to mean more to the recipient than the reward itself and so the reward can be relatively low-cost, or in some cases no-cost. Rewards that cost little but have a big impact include an extra day’s holiday, employee of the month parking space or a free car clean during working hours. Thanking employees with an early finish on a Friday afternoon, a late start on a Monday morning or an extended lunch break are also popular as are experience days, giftcards and vouchers.

The key is to dedicate some time to present the reward in public and say a personal thank you, because it enhances the overall sentiment of the gift and makes it even more memorable. Overall, if employers recognise publicly, often, and associate the reward with desired behaviours, better results will be achieved than if the budget was blown on a fancy reward.

Length of service awards are another effective way to recognise employee contribution without incurring significant cost. They may seem like a thing from the past, but switched-on businesses are maximising their effectiveness by rewarding frequently to deliver recognition to the employee that will inspire a fresh burst of productivity and re-engage them in the business. 

Today, the gold watch for 25 years of service is no longer relevant and so businesses have significantly shortened the length of time before awards are given with awards after five, 10 and 15 years. In some high employee turnover industries, such as call centres, rewards are given after six months or a year. While the physical award can be low-cost, such as a meal out, it is important to make the process of rewarding a really big deal by ensuring the presentation is attended by peers and by shouting about it via the appropriate communication channels.

Another low-cost step that employers can take to boost employee morale, engagement and loyalty is recognising and celebrating a range of occasions with them, including birthdays, weddings, housewarmings, baby showers, length of service awards, Christmas and special anniversaries. Arranging for a card containing a small gift to be delivered to an employee’s desk, home or email inbox is a personal and special way to recognise employees who creates a feel-good factor in the workplace with minimal financial outlay and effort for the person tasked with organising it.

Businesses that take small steps such as these to recognise and reward employees and make them feel valued will reap the rewards.

Blog supplied by Kuljit Kaur of The Voucher Shop.

Posted in Employees | Tagged people management | 0 comments

Key lessons I learned about starting a business

December 18, 2013 by Guest Blogger

Key lessons I learned about starting a business – Andrew Slack of MoreNiche/Business with Start Up word{{}}Starting a business involves making an often tough, but amazing journey. I was fortunate enough to have started ‘tinkering with the internet’ right when affiliate marketing was just starting to evolve. At that time eBay, for example, would pay for every website visitor they received, even if they clicked straight back off. I could see the enormous opportunities and decided to pursue them.

I completed a degree in computer science before going into business with my best friend, using the money I made designing and selling my first website. I developed a very basic affiliate programme and learned all the basics to being a single Internet marketer, website management, design html and online marketing. I did not know it at the time but this would eventually become MoreNiche, the affiliate marketing company of which I am managing director. We decided to specialize in the growing health and beauty industry.

The business really started to take off and in 2007-2008 we grew sales to such an extent that we broke the £5m per year turnover mark. All our growth came organically from our own affiliate work, but later from partnerships. 

Face problems head on. There is always a solution

We’ve certainly learned lots of lessons getting where we are today. Every business has its challenges. One time I had to work solidly for 36 hours because someone had managed to paralyse our systems, which meant that none of our websites were working. After much soul searching and a severe lack of sleep, I eventually managed to get us up and running again. 

We’ve had numerous other bad experiences, including a credit card processor going bankrupt, which severely dented our profits, as well as a supplier selling us tens of thousands of units of product that simply were not as described. The important thing is that you learn from such things, deal with them and make sure they don’t happen again. 

Success is a team effort

One of the most important lessons I have learned since starting MoreNiche is that success cannot be achieved alone. A business, no matter how big or small, is really just a collection of people working towards a common goal. It’s these people that will either make you a success or not. I have some superstars who have worked with me for many years and I would not be here without them. Rewarding key staff for their dedication is critical.

Never take your foot off the gas

Having the creative freedom and the technical foundation to try ideas out has allowed me to enjoy business and continue to thrive on tomorrow’s challenges. It would be very easy to take the foot off the gas and relax a little, but that’s just not in my DNA.  For whatever reason, I just want to go further.

Blog supplied by Andrew Slack, managing director of affiliate marketing business MoreNiche, which specialises in the health and beauty industry.

Further reading

The worrying consequences of spiralling business costs

December 17, 2013 by Guest Blogger

The worrying consequences of spiralling business costs/man showing empty pockets{{}}According to research published recently by membership organisation the Forum of Private Business (FPB), business costs in 2013 in the UK have increased at a rate of “3.5% ahead of inflation”.

The FPB’s latest Cost of Doing Business survey, based on responses from its members, concluded that “firms are still facing an uphill battle to make ends meet, despite positive signs of an economic recovery,” says the organisation.

The FPB reckons 94% of businesses have seen an overall increase in their business costs in 2013, with 87% having to cope with an increase in energy costs, 83% with higher transport costs, 78% with a rise in marketing costs and 69% with higher raw materials/stock costs.

Margins continue to be squeezed, with two-fifths (41%) of respondents unable to “pass any rising costs onto customers, forcing them to cut their own costs to keep prices static” (just 2% were able to pass on costs in full, says the FPB).

"The major reasons for increases in prices are predominantly down to transport and energy prices rising, coupled with the continued weakness of sterling for importers,” explains Alexander Jackman, FPB head of policy. “The economic outlook may be better, but costs still remain an issue for our members and a key focus of our lobbying and support services.

"Unfortunately, it doesn't look as if there is going to be any respite from energy hikes any time soon, despite the ongoing political pressure to introduce more competition in the market, with many of the major players recently announcing significant increases and others expected to follow suit."

Although annual inflation has fallen from 3% to 2.7%, prices have continued to rise faster for businesses (6%), although, says the FPB, this is less than the 6.7% it reported last year.

Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents have experienced cashflow issues as a result of rising business costs, which has had a “detrimental effect on 51% of firms when looking to invest”, while “51% also reported that it has been detrimental to employment levels” and “63% feel that it has inhibited their plans for growth”.

Despite the recent good news on the UK economy, increasing business costs could hamper many business’s ability to take advantage of recovery, with 83% of respondents expecting prices to continue to increase and 16% expecting a “significant increase”, says the FPB.

"Businesses, like consumers, are facing a lot of upward cost pressures at the moment,” notes Phil Orford, FPB CEO. “When looking at how to dampen energy price rises and other cost pressures for households, the government shouldn't ignore the fact that businesses are facing similar challenges. Political efforts to positively impact on the cost of living should not be funded through increasing the costs of doing business."

Sites such as uSwitch, UKPower and comparethemarket.com enable businesses and individuals to compare energy prices and try to find a better deal.

Further reading

13 things you could have learned from our blog in 2013

December 12, 2013 by Mark Williams

13 things you could have learned from our blog in 2013{{}}1 “Ensuring that your target market can find your website is essential to making your new business work and SEO [search engine optimization] is core to that”

From 10 tips for starting an online business

2 “Part of the job of running your own business is figuring out how you can get ahead of the game. You need to have processes or systems that can focus on you finding cuter/smarter/cleverer ways of doing things”

From The business benefits of a weekly sort-out

3 “From the moment you meet your potential customer think about how you are going to close the deal. Always greet them with a smile and form a relationship. People will rarely sign a deal with someone they don't like or respect”

From 3 essential tips on how to close a deal

4 “The lack of a simple ‘thank-you’ means six-in-ten employees do not feel they are appreciated by their boss, with a third having stopped expecting any form of appreciation”

From When was the last time you thanked your employees?

5 “One way of thinking differently is to question the limiting beliefs you have about what is and isn’t possible. Change your thinking, question your beliefs and you are on the way to truly creating change”

From Getting the 'right T-shirt' in 2013

6 “Facebook and Twitter are ideal places to advertise jobs. If a vacancy becomes available, post it on Facebook with a link to how applicants can apply. Also Tweet about it and encourage staff to Retweet it on Twitter”

From How social media can help you recruit top quality employees

7 “Youth unemployment in the UK among 15 to 24 year olds increased by a staggering 35% between 2008 and 2011, compared to an average of 15 per cent in the G8 countries”

From Join the fight against youth unemployment

8 “You just need to speak to everyone, because you never know who you are talking to and you really need to shout about your business. You have to believe in yourself, your business and its products”

From How to set up a successful sideline business

9 “If you can’t verbally and succinctly convey your offering (in what is often called the elevator pitch), how can you communicate it to potential customers? Wordy websites and offerings that are difficult to understand turn potential customers off”

From How to maximise your turnover

10 “Choose the market that you want to aim towards and build it around that; and make sure you offer something different – you must stand out if you are to succeed”

From Learning the value of staying small

11 “With a strong idea, bags of determination and ability, the right people to support you and some guts, you’ll do well. Just accept that there will be highs and lows – be ready for both”

From So you want to set up a business?

12 “Bad decisions cost the typical small business £2,340 a year”

From Revealed: SMEs' biggest mistakes

13 “If you do something you love, you’re more likely to be successful. It will be fun rather than just work and your natural passion and enthusiasm will rub off on others”

From Tristram Mayhew of Go Ape's eight top tips for business success

Thank you to our sponsors for their support this year. Many thanks also to the experts who shared their knowledge and provided content that ensures this blog remains a popular source of information, advice and inspiration. A big ‘Thank You’ also to our ever-growing list of partners – we look forward to working with you next year and beyond.

Finally, a massive ‘Thank You’ to all our readers in 2013. Whether you were thinking of starting your own business and were looking for inspiration or were starting your own business and needed advice, we hope you found what you were looking for.

Happy Christmas and here’s to a wonderful 2014…

Displaying 43 to 48 of 807 results

Syndicate content